Uhthoff’s Phenomenon: MS Heat Intolerance

Now that we’re heading into the hot summer months in most parts of the United States,  I want to talk about why multiple sclerosis symptoms worsen in the summer heat!  


First described by Wilhelm Uhthoff http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilhelm_Uhthoff  in 1890  the temporary worsening of vision and other neurologic symptoms when the body is overheated is  now known as the Uhthoff Phenomenon or Uhthoff’s symptoms.  


Our bodies overheat not only from the outside temperature rising, also from fever, exercise, saunas and hot tubs.  

MS heat intolerance symptoms can result from a very slight rise in core body temperature even as little as one-quarter to one-half of a degree. An elevated temperature further impairs the ability of a demyelinated nerve to conduct electrical impulses.


The Uhthoff Phenomenon

Uhthoff’s Symptom also referred to as Uhthoff’s Phenomenon was the principal diagnostic test for multiple sclerosis until the 1980’s when more accurate test methods became available.

An increase in heat can worsen many MS symptoms and cause new ones to appear but is most often seen to exacerbate MS fatigue.

  • Wearing a cooling vest
  • Wearing a cooling necklace
  • Cool bath or shower

I’d love to hear what you do to stay cool in the summer heat~  You know I’m living in the cool climate of Alaska but it will only be a few years until we move to the heat of northern Utah!


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